NEWS

In Brief

SPIRALING DEBT

Central government owes some 13 billion euros more than last year Figures released by the State Accounting officer yesterday show that the central government’s debt climbed to over 213 billion euros in June, reaching 123 percent of the country’s GDP. Although there was a small boost in cash reserves and a reduction on state guarantees on public company borrowing, the debt is 13 billion higher than last year. CYPRIOT DEATHS Seven killed as bus overturns near Red Sea tourist resort Seven Cypriots were killed and three more were injured in a bus accident on the way to the Egyptian tourist resort of Sharm-al-Sheikh from the Saint Catherine’s Monastery in Sinai, the Cypriot Foreign Ministry said yesterday. The Cypriots had been traveling in a small bus which overturned. The bus was carrying a total of 13 passengers. MIGRANT RIGHTS Minister denies detention of Pakistanis Following a visit with Communist Party (KKE) MP Orestis Kolozov, Public Order Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis yesterday denied any knowledge of the alleged illegal detention and questioning by police of seven immigrants last month. Kolozov said he was «unconvinced» by Voulgarakis’s response and called for «light to be shed on what exactly happened.» Left-wing parties have backed claims by the head of the Pakistani community of Athens saying seven migrants were illegally abducted, detained and questioned following the terrorist attacks in London. Lightning strikes A 25-year-old Greek woman was killed after being struck by lightning during a tour of the Great Wall of China, according to a report yesterday in Beijing Today newspaper. The woman and her 30-year-old male companion, who reportedly suffered minor injuries from the bolt, were not named. According to Chinese authorities, it is not uncommon for tourists to suffer injuries from lightning bolts at the Great Wall of China, particularly during summer. Peach wars Peach farmers in northern Greece yesterday insisted on meeting with canning firm chiefs on Monday to secure a higher price for their produce. Peach producers want at least 0.20 cents per kilo but canning firm representatives say they cannot offer more than 0.19 cents per kilo. Peach producers threatened to block access to the canneries if the latter reject their demands for a better price. Producers last week staged a three-day blockage of a major highway connecting Thessaloniki to Edessa in northern Greece in protest. Jerusalem patriarch The Holy Synod of Jerusalem’s Orthodox Patriarchate is due to elect a new patriarch on Monday to replace the scandal-mired ex-patriarch Irenaios. The 14 members of the synod, 12 representatives of the Orthodox community and 21 archimandrites will elect three candidates, one of whom will be chosen as the new patriarch by the synod members. Bank robberies Robbers targeted three branches of Alpha Bank in different parts of Attica yesterday, looting two of them. The first raid occurred at 8.39 a.m. in Alimos by two men who fled on a motorcycle. Another two robbers attempted the second raid a minute later in Sepolia but were thwarted by a security guard. Gunshots were fired but no one was injured. An armed duo also carried out the third raid at 10.12 a.m. in Neos Cosmos and then fled on a motorcycle. It was unclear how much cash was netted in the two successful raids. Church fire Firefighters yesterday were investigating whether arsonists started Wednesday’s catastrophic fire in a church in the small town of Aiani in the northern prefecture of Kozani. Residents of Aiani had been locked in a dispute about whether the Aghios Giorgos Church should be renovated or demolished, due to damage it sustained in 1995 earthquakes. Hail damage State inspectors yesterday visited farmland in the Thessaloniki municipality of Lachana, damaged by heavy hailstorms earlier this month, to assess the amount of compensation affected farmers should receive. Bad weather damaged some 15,000 hectares of farmland in northern Greece.